PHOTO CREDITS: ALEX BRANDON/AP PHOTO
The second presidential debate, which was scheduled for October 15, was cancelled by the Trump campaign Thursday morning, just hours after the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced that the debate would be held virtually in light of President Trump’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis.
On Fox News Thursday morning, President Trump announced that he will not participate in a virtual debate in which he and his opponent were in different locations. “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate, that’s not what debating is all about,” Trump said on the phone interview. “You sit behind a computer and do a debate – it’s ridiculous and then they cut you off whenever they want.” Bill Seplen, the campaign manager for the Trump campaign, told reporters that President Trump would instead hold a campaign rally.
The CPD stated that the decision to move the debate virtually was necessary for safety reasons, and came as President Trump returned to the White House from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. According to C-Net, the President is still receiving COVID-19 treatment for his COVID-19 infection. In a memo released by the White House early Tuesday, Dr. Conley stated that Trump was experiencing “no symptoms” of Covid-19 and was doing “extremely well” (The Sun).
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said earlier this week that the next presidential debate should be canceled if President Donald Trump is still testing positive for coronavirus. “I think if he still has COVID, we shouldn’t have a debate,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday. However, he did not rule out the possibility of debating Trump again so long as he is medically cleared to do so and all necessary precautions are taken. “I’m not sure what President Trump is all about now,” Biden said. “I don’t know what his status is. I’m looking forward to being able to debate him, but I just hope all the protocols are followed.” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told Forbes Tuesday, though this is no longer true, that “President Trump will be healthy and will be there,” adding, “There’s no getting out of this one for Biden and his protectors in the media can’t cover for him.”
Biden was asked about the second debate scheduled for Oct. 15 after delivering a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday. This followed a weekend of uncertainty after Trump said Friday he and Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus, sparking a slew of cases among top White House officials and Republican members of Congress. Other notable positive tests included White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Adviser Hope Hicks, Trump campaign adviser Chris Christie, and former White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway (IBTimes).
Asked what precautions could be taken to ensure safety at the debate, Biden suggested the plexiglass shields that were negotiated for his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris despite fervent opposition from Vice President Mike Pence’s team. Biden also said the debate would have to have “very strict guidelines” and, similar to how he says he would manage the pandemic more broadly, stated he would do “what the [doctors] say is the right thing to do.”
The second presidential debate is slated for October 15 in Miami, and the third and final debate is set for October 22 in Nashville. According to a recent CNN poll of 1,205 U.S. adults, 59% said the remaining presidential debates should be held, 36% said they should not (Forbes).
ARTICLE: CARSON CHOATE, POLITICS EDITOR